Sunday, August 10, 2008
Russian invasion of South Ossetia: an excuse for conquest in Georgia
Posted by John Keller
I'm hearing a lot of noise in the world press about regions in the Caucasus of Russia and Georgia respectively called North and South Ossetia. The residents of these regions reportedly are different from the folks in Russia and Georgia. Ossetians, it seems, speak a language akin to the Iranian language of Farsi, and like the Russians more than they do the Georgians.
I read that different ethnic groups, different languages, competing claims of independence, and the like are justifications for military action in the region. This is a bunch of garbage. Russia invaded Georgia, plain and simple
South Ossetia is a district in Georgia. It is not a country; it is not an independent entity. Neither NATO, the European Union, nor the United Nations recognizes South Ossetia as an independent entity. Only Russia believes it to be so.
Now why might Russia believe so passionately that the district of South Ossetia is an independent entity that it would intervene militarily in the region -- even though this district lies wholly within the legal and recognized borders of Georgia?
Might it be that the government of Georgia is more closely aligned with the West than is Russia, that Georgia would like to join NATO, and that it's in Russia's best interests, therefore, to keep Georgia unstable by internal strife? I would think so.
Russian has stirred up plenty of trouble in the South Ossetia district to keep the pot boiling. Russia has "peace keepers" in South Ossetia ostensibly to keep ethnic Ossetians and Georgians from hurting one another. Still, published reports say these "peace keepers" have become Ossetian partisans. Moreover, Russia has granted Russian passports to residents of the South Ossetia district of Georgia. How provocative is that?
Russian leaders claimed they were coming to the aid of kindred spirits in South Ossetia when they sent Russian forces across the Georgian border with tanks, artillery, jet bombers, and infantry soldiers and started destroying Georgian cities within and outside of the south Ossetia district.
Do the Russians, historically, have a reputation for coming to the aid of beleaguered peoples throughout the world? I don't think so. The Russians do, however, have a reputation for snatching chunks of land near their borders when they see an opportunity.
I think that's all this affair in Georgia is: an opportunity for Russia to snatch some territory and put Georgia on notice that it had better not join NATO or get any closer to the West -- or else.
Let's try to put this into perspective. The South Ossetia district is probably roughly the size of Imperial County, Calif. Now what if Mexico decided to issue Mexican passports to all the residents of Imperial County, and send in "peace keepers" under the guise of protecting the Hispanic population of that county.
Then, say, some folks in Imperial County started rioting, and county sheriff's deputies in riot gear went in to quiet things down. What Russia is doing in Georgia, would be the same as if Mexico sent soldiers across the California border to chase off the sheriff's deputies and occupy Imperial County.
How well would that all go over? Not well, I would imagine.